The very first World Choral Fest was held last month in Dublin, Ireland, and it was the brainchild of a Kansas City choir director.
Tracy Resseguie heads the choir program at Staley High School in the North Kansas City School district. He thinks that the World Choral Fest may have been the first time that singers from several different parts of the world rehearsed and performed together in a concert like this.
(At most international choir festivals, Ressigue said, the choruses perform one after the other, maybe competing or singing for each other, but they don’t usually rehearse and sing together.)
Resseguie first got the idea for the festival after commissioning a choral piece about his great grandfather, who immigrated from Norway to Iowa in 1890. He led a group of singers who performed the piece in the Norwegian church where his great grandfather was baptized.
The experience of performing and collaborating with singers there inspired Ressigue to create this international, intergenerational event in Ireland.
"We learn so much about each other when we sing together, that [I thought] it would be a really powerful event to bring people together from different countries, to live together for a week, to rehearse together all week, you know, culminating in this beautiful concert," Ressigue said over the phone from Kinsale, Ireland.
Seventy of the singers who went to Ireland for the World Choral Fest were from Kansas City. Many were from Staley High School.
This year also happens to be "the year of the gathering." Ireland is calling Irish families back to the island to celebrate their common culture. Many of the singers who traveled there took the time to celebrate their own heritage.
The closing concert culminated with the world premiere of the new piece "Cantate Canticum Novum" (which means “sing a new song” in Latin). It was composed by Dan Forrest, who happens to be a University of Kansas graduate, with lyrics by Tony Silvestri, who’s a Lawrence, Kan. resident.